Tseng Wen-ding’s tie-breaking slam and key blocked shot with under a minute remaining lifted Taiwan Team A past Iran 80-76 in Jones Cup play at the Taipei County Sinjhuang Gymnasium on Saturday night.
The Yulon Luxgen center — who was hampered by injuries throughout the season — turned in one of his best efforts of the year by scoring a team-high 23 points, three blocked shots and three rebounds to show why he is still the premier big man in the Super Basketball League.
With Iran’s starting center Hamed Ehadadi sidelined with stomach problems, the heavily favored defending champs of the 2007 Asian Championship suddenly looked beatable as the hosts attacked the Iranian low-post with stellar play by Tseng and fellow center Wu Dai-hao of Taiwan Beer, with the pair netting a combined 33 points and 10 boards.
An evenly fought first half that ended appropriately in a 38-all deadlock got the crowd into the game. Even though Taiwan opened the second half on a down note — allowing a 10-2 scoring run for Iran — they answered with a 15-4 run of their own to grab a 55-52 lead.
The seesaw battle continued with neither team able to take leads larger than five down the stretch until the tie at 76 set the stage for Tseng’s last-minute heroics.
With the win, Taiwan Team A improved to 5-2 for the tournament. Another win over arch-rival South Korea in the final game coupled with rather unlikely losses by Jordan and Iran in their final games could give the home team a grand finish as high as second place.